With a swiftness born of need, communities grappling with homelessness across California have submitted proposals to use more than all of the first $178 million tranche from Proposition 2, the “No Place Like Home” initiative voters approved last November to pay for supportive housing for mentally ill people who are homeless or at risk of becoming so.
The first 45 applications for No Place Like Home funding, coming from 20 different counties, total nearly $194 million. They range from proposals to acquire and rehabilitate a historic hotel in downtown Sacramento to building 50 new apartments in the city of Riverside. See here for more information on the applications submitted.
Awards for the first No Place Like Home projects will be announced by the California Department of Housing and Community Development in June.
And that will be just the beginning, as a total of $1.8 billion will ultimately be distributed by the state as a result of Prop. 2, which the Steinberg Institute helped foster and which got more than 6.5 million votes, more than any other initiative on the November ballot.
We all look forward to these substantial investments, which will not cost taxpayers any new money because Prop. 2 authorized the sale of bonds to be paid for using proceeds from Prop. 63, also known as the Mental Health Services Act.
That law, passed by voters in 2004, levied a 1 percent tax on incomes of more than a million dollars a year and currently raises $2.4 billion a year for mental health services. It was co-authored by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, chairman and founder of the Steinberg Institute, which, among other things, seeks to ensure that Mental Health Services Act money is appropriately spent.
No Place Like Home bonds are helping to do just that.
While the process for awarding awarding the money goes ahead, however, the Steinberg Institute is not standing idle. Instead, we are working to streamline the building permit approval process for supportive housing projects and make it harder for not-in-my-backyard protests to bog them down.
In particular, the Steinberg Institute is sponsoring SB 744, a bill authored by Sen. Anna Caballero of Salinas that would require local governments to approve permanent supportive housing projects that meet specified state and local requirements, such as if the housing is in a county’s application for competitive funds under the No Place Like Home Program.
Time and again, voters have said they want people with mental illness to get proper care and to be housed. They understand that people who are homeless and living with mental illness are unnecessarily suffering in our streets, emergency rooms and jails, and they want it to stop.
SB 744 will help ensure that the will of the voters finally gets implemented.
For more information: Patrick Hoge (office) 916-297-4494, (cell) 510-435-2320, firstname.lastname@example.org